This book is crap. I had it on hand as a back-up book for the train-ride when I finished another and hadn’t had the chance to check something else out. It’s fairly slim, but not nearly slim enough. There’s basically no structure to it and the same basic schtick just gets repeated over and over again, so you could pick it up anywhere and not be able to distinguish that section from the rest (Jane Jacobs considers that a big defect in urban geography). He constantly follows up with a “but” or “however” framed sentence, but no real contradictory points ever get made since it’s basically the same idea (if one chooses to dignify it with such a word) thrown in your face over and over. Half the sentences aren’t even sentences. Phrases that aggravate. Emote rather than explain. I diagnose Bowden with too much continental philosophy. Underneath the mass of metaphors there’s barely anything left. Civilization rests on implicit threats of violence to maintain order. We are mortal and will die one day. There, I just saved you a lot of time.
After finishing that I went to pick up Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”, but like Goffman’s book it wasn’t where it was supposed to be (other than in the reference section). The shelf was full of books on socialism, so I picked up Arthur Lipow’s “Authoritarian Socialism in America”, recommended by you-know-who. From my initial impression, Bellamy sounds like he’d be right up Mencius’ alley! There’s the condemnation of universal suffrage, and even democracy generally, the upholding of the military as ideal, the idea of thinking of the government as a business, along with fear of socialist labor union rabble engaging in riots or other unrest. There are even comparisons to Carlyle as a similarly anti-democratic authoritarian who rejected capitalist individualism. The book also undercuts Mencius view that America is the source of all that is wrong with the world, Bellamy spent time in Germany before writing his book and paid great attention to the reformist undercurrents there. Rather than communism being “American as apple pie” in Mencius words, it was widely thought of as suspiciously European in Bellamy’s time and he just happened to put it in more palatable packaging. For more of the American-apologism I promote see Daniel Flynn’s Conservative History of the American Left. I haven’t actually read that, nor do I intend to finish Lipow’s book. I am just not that interested in some book by Arthur Bellamy to read an extended analysis and contextualization of it.
In more positive Ninebanded news, MRDA reviews Andy Nowicki’s “Considering Suicide”.